I had the privilege of lettering the Benevolent Dictator certificate presented to my friend Tal Leming at the 2012 Robothon conference in recognition of his contributions to the UFO font data storage format. Although I originally intended to digitize some lettering to be screen-printed or letterpressed, my colleagues Ben and Andy convinced me that Tal would appreciate an actual sketch much more. This was especially challenging, since I’m not accustomed to my pencil renderings being seen as final artwork.

Considering the nature of the award, I figured it was a good opportunity to try my hand at something in the vein of late nineteenth century American engrossing. I was particularly excited about drawing a Sickels letter, a bold compact style popularized during the 1880s by American Bank Note Company draftsman C.E. Sickels. The connecting script, on the other hand, is modeled after the work of engrosser P.W. Costello who worked largely in Scranton, Pennsylvania at the turn of the century.

After quite a bit of experimentation with various materials, I elected to execute the illustration with metallic gold Prismacolor pencils on ivory cold press illustration board. The finished piece was mounted in a custom frame built by Adam Cruz and presented to Tal on March 8 at the 2012 Robothon conference held in Den Haag, Netherlands.